You've been friends forever, but now that she's getting married, you are going to be one of her bridesmaids. It is a special job and one that you and she will remember forever, but it is one that comes with several expenses. You want to take your job seriously. You want to do your best, but you're on a budget. Believe it or not, you can be a great bridesmaid while not spending a fortune.

[caption id="attachment_559" align="aligncenter" width="639"]Photo by outreachr.com (Flickr) Photo by outreachr.com (Flickr)[/caption]

Travel

Once she has announced her engagement and asked you to be a part of the wedding party, start thinking of your possible travel expenses. If you'll need to travel, start saving as soon as possible for the trip. Find out if you'll need airfare or if you can make the trip by car. Find out if you'll be responsible for hotel accommodations and if you can share a room with other bridesmaids. Try to book as early as possible for better prices.

Gifts

When you're in a wedding, you will have a little bit more of an expense than if you are simply attending the wedding. You'll most likely have a wedding gift, a bridal shower gift. and a bachelorette party gift to buy as well. Start off with a budget in mind and know what you can spend for each event. Don't forget about the really cool DIY gifts that are out there: You can make something very special for less than the cost of a gravy boat.

Consider giving a group gift with other friends or bridesmaids. If there is a bigger-ticket item on the bride's registry, consider splitting it three or four ways. This will make the price a bit easier to handle and will guarantee that she'll get that more expensive thing she wants.

As far as the wedding gift goes, try to shop early. The sooner you can get to the gift registry, the more options you'll have. When you wait until the last minute, you may be stuck purchasing the $200 blender. By going early, you can purchase a few of the lower-priced items and have several options for bridal shower and wedding gifts.

Dress

A modern trend for brides is to just give her bridesmaids a color instead of requiring them to purchase an expensive wear-it-once bridesmaid dress that might not be flattering on everyone. More often, brides will give the wedding party a color and allow them to shop for their dress themselves. Usually, the bride will want to approve the color and style of the dress, but this will still allow you to purchase a dress in your price range.

You'll probably need a few different dresses for the wedding event. You'll obviously need a bridesmaid dress, but you may also need a dress for the bridal shower and possibly a dress for the bridal luncheon and a dress for the bachelorette party. Start shopping months before the big day. Drop in on sales at each of the nearby department stores. Check around the end of the season if the wedding is at least six months away. Hopefully, you can snag a few great dresses, each at reasonable prices.

If all of the bridesmaids' gowns have been purchased from a bridal shop, be wary of unnecessary alterations. They may suggest that you need certain features added in for comfort. Simply remember that you'll be wearing the dress for one day. You don't necessarily need a loop for your bra strap or a dart at the waist. If alterations are needed for a better fit, you may be better off going to your local tailor.

Remember that your friend's big day is especially important to her. When your day comes, she will be there for you. It's important to give her your best and help her to make great memories. You don't have to spend a big chunk of money to be a great bridesmaid and friend.